My previous post was a challenge. I spent the better part of an afternoon sorting through random, uninteresting thoughts for a single exciting idea. The children were around and as quirky as usual. I had plenty of time to write while they played with friends. Loads of books surrounded me. Still–I came up empty. Ralph Waldo Emerson said,
To the dull mind nature is leaden. To the illumined mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light.
Although Emerson makes it seem like you have either a dull mind or an illuminated mind, most people experience both extremes in different ratios. All humans are dull–sometimes. But a key to Creativity is to be illuminated and excited by the world more of the time.
Recently, I’ve been reading Laura Vanderkam’s highly practical book–168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. She thinks planning days in 24-hour-blocks limits your creative accomplishments. Instead, she recommends looking at time as week-long blocks. She says,
The way I see it, anything you do once a week happens often enough to be important to you, whether it’s church, a strategic thinking session at work, you Sunday dinner with your parents, or your softball team practice. The weekly 168-hour cycle is big enough to give a true picture of our lives. Years and decades are made up of a mosaic of repeating patterns of 168 hours. Yet there is room for randomness, and the mosaic will evolve over time, but whether you pay attention to the pattern is still a choice. Largely, the true picture of our lives will be a function of how we set the tiles.
The poet Robert Louis Stevenson planned his schedule by weeks. He said,
Even if the doctor does not give you a year, even if he hesitates about a month, make one brave push and see what can be accomplished in a week.
Your Creative energy often depends on your schedule–what gets a piece of your life and what does not. A huge part of creative accomplishment is simply getting your work done.To lose weight, you look at what you are eating and plan your meals to achieve the desired outcome–a slimmer you. Looking at your schedule by the week functions like a food diary to show you what to cut and what you must keep in.
Schedules cannot be commoditized. What fuels your Creativity or shuts it down is personal. Nobel Laureate for Peace Elise Weisel reads, travels and writes. But he won’t stop by the Louvre if he’s in Paris . He says,
What is being lost is the magic of the word. I am not an image person. Imagery belongs to another civilization: the caveman. Caveman couldn’t express himself so he put images on walls.
But the philosopher Albert Camus saw things differently. He said,
A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.
The point is– images stayed out of Weisel’s schedule because they dulled his Creative appetite.
Yesterday, when I realized how slow my mind moved, I looked at my previous 168 hours and immediately found what was going down. Every day, the past week, I made time for coffee. On the day I had trouble waking to the world and posting on this blog–I did not. And, having spent most of the previous night talking, not sleeping– the effects of skipping coffee were blaring. Could a simple cup of coffee make my world burn and sparkle with light?
Writer Martha Beck says,
Almost all my middle-aged and elderly acquaintances, including me, feel about 25, unless we haven’t had our coffee, in which case we feel 107.
But the point isn’t to feel young. It’s to add sparkle and light to your world–so you can do what you love, well. I like what the highly Creative mathematician Paul Erdös said best. He said,
A mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems.
This morning–I won’t forget my coffee.